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malcolm chamberlain

musings about the emerging church, mission and contemporary culture...

God is at large, intimately involved in his world in ways that the church is maybe just waking up to!

Benazir Bhutto RIP...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Words fail me... for all her faults (and she had a few, but then don't we all) I genuinely think that Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan's best bet for a more stable future. I feel some of the grief that many Pakistanis will experience in a much greater measure, as well as a degree of despair over where Pakistan goes from here. This is a country in the grip of desperation - Pakistan and its people need and deserve our prayers at this time.

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 7:38 PM | link | 0 comments |

merry christmas...

Monday, December 24, 2007

a bit presumptuous to think that anyone will be reading this blog on Christmas Eve,
but just in case... I hope you have a great Christmas!!
posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 2:54 PM | link | 1 comments |

emerging church postcards...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

In January 2006 Dream featured as one of Steve Taylor's 'Emerging Church Postcards'. For the third consecutive year Steve is running the series again with new 'postcards'. To find out more about the series and how to get your community featured visit here!

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 3:09 PM | link | 0 comments |

consumers...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another great cartoon from David Hayward.
Let's face it, we're all consumers really...
Happy Christmas!

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 9:48 AM | link | 0 comments |

Liverpool nativity...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Had a great time last night at the Liverpool Nativity. As with the Manchester Passion, I was impressed by the creative way in which the story of Jesus was communicated afresh to a (post) modern audience. I haven't yet had a chance to watch the TV broadcast but, from being there, I certainly felt that this was another excellent piece of mission and gospel proclamation. I particularly liked the way that the nativity story was narrated alongside a powerful social comment regarding 'outcasts' of our contemporary society (asylum seekers and the homeless most notably) and felt that this was a good contextualising of the Christmas good news message.

Although the main stage stuff was carefully stage managed (with cues on the screen and a lengthy 'rehearsal' beforehand) there were several points during the production and, in particular the crowd singing, where I felt a real sense of worship being offered. There was something sacred in those moments of people singing along to popular songs whilst reinterpreting them around the central message of the Incarnation. It brought a new meaning and significance to some well loved songs! It also felt as though I was standing in a crowd of people who were, in some way, caught up in the stuff of God - many of whom, I'm sure, would not identify themselves as being 'Christian' or religious. Maybe, as Kester posts 'here', the rich Christian heritage in our culture is not that deep below the surface after all (even Richard Dawkins seems happy to identify with this!).

So what if there were a few duff notes hit by one or two of the singers (it was very cold after all!) - the power of the production lay in the ancient story re-framed for the 21st century.

(the photo is of the star above the main stage - taken on a camera phone hence quality!!)

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 9:50 AM | link | 0 comments |

complicit...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A powerfully honest post from Kester is well worth reading, but be warned... don't bother if you're comfortable just the way you are and don't want to be challenged.

I blogged about TTIS in Liverpool 'here'

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 11:19 AM | link | 0 comments |

a season of peace... not pc...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

'This' is a great post from Matt Stone. In it he writes...

"Isn't giving what Christmas is really about? Giving? Do we think for one second that the magi that rocked up to the original Christmas gathering had their theology all straight? Particularly given their means of divining what was going on? Can you imagine Joseph at the stable door blocking their way with the words, hey, you guys aren't exactly kosher? Or Mary having a go at her Jewish neighbours for not celebrating the birth of her son in a suitably Christian way? By the same token, can you imagine the angels toning things down their heavenly praises to make them more PC?"

Go read...

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 3:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

the ideal and the reality...

A conversation I was engaged in last night has got me thinking some more about missional church commmunities. It was a fascinating discussion in which we voiced the tension between the 'ideal' Christian community and the 'reality'. The ideal community is one where members are so committed to one another and to journeying together in relationship with Christ that they are able to put up with one another, 'warts and all', tolerating and even embracing differences. Furthermore, the 'warts and all' are not hidden behind the facade of false 'Christian smiles' and utterances of 'everything is ok', but are public and worked through in an environment of honesty and unconditional acceptance. And so, the ideal Christian community will be multi-generational and multi-cultural, where everyone is open to learn from and engage with the people and things they don't particularly like (music, traditions, beliefs, etc), as well as those they do.

The reality of course is always different to this - generally people belong to their particular faith community because it best expresses the kind of things they do like, and includes the kind of people they can relate to. And woe betide anyone who comes in and tries to change this balance too radically to a different way of doing things. Generally we don't put up with 'warts and all' because we tend to keep them hidden, and when they do rise to the surface we simply resort to criticisms usually behind the backs of the people concerned!

So how do we move from the reality to the ideal... is it even possible? It dawned on me (rightly or wrongly) during our discussion that to try to 'create' the ideal is always doomed to failure. It's not good enough to expect people to put up with stuff they don't like or people they don't get on with, and to judge them as not committed enough if they don't. Our Western culture is fragmented, in the sense that it encompasses countless sub-cultures within it, but one uniting facet is consumerism. Christians often start talking about consumerism very critically as if we've managed to escape it, but the truth is that we are all consumers, me included! It follows that in a fragmented consumerist society people will tend to only engage in voluntary activities that they want to be a part of, activities that they enjoy or get something from. We generally don't chose to do things that we don't enjoy unless we're paid to or have to.

If then, we want community to be missional - if we want to encourage people to identify with and belong to faith communities, these communities have to, first and foremost, be ones that people can relate to and so want to belong to. Gone are the days (thank God) of people rolling up to church because someone says they ought to, and enduring it because they have no choice in the matter.

It's true that at work or when shopping (two examples raised in last night's discussion) we may encounter and tolerate annoying people, but at work we are paid and have no choice but to get on with the job regardless (apart from resigning that is), and when shopping we're either shopping for essentials and so have to put up with the inconveniences, or our desire to shop in that particular store outweighs the inconvenience so we simply try to avoid the nuisance. Work and shopping for essentials are not really voluntary activities and the leisure shopping we do because we enjoy it - if we didn't we'd likely stop shopping in the places where the annoying people were.

In the case of church we have a very different dynamic - it's generally a community where we can't avoid people (except in very large congregations) and where we have to put up the things that annoy us. My (educated) guess is that many people simply vote with their feet when they encounter uncomfortable differences, thinking 'why should I go to church to put up with stuff and people I don't get on with?' Of course, in all this we must still hold on to the ideal, but we can't engineer it and if we only operate in that model we're unlikely to engage anyone new, especially people with no previous church background. The level of selflessness needed to be committed to a community 'warts and all' is probably a fair distance down the discipleship path for most people - indeed many people who have been 'going to church' for decades have still not reached that point and hold out for what they prefer above any missional concerns. So why insist that people newly engaging with a community should be at that point immediately, and should 'shut up and put up' if they're serious about following Jesus.

So maybe this becomes an apologetic for culture specific communities, at least as a place of first connection with followers of Jesus. I guess the introduction of 'clusters' in some church models (e.g. "here') is an attempt to provide such spaces of belonging. These are not intended as end points with respect to engagement in Christian community, and are certainly not seen as exclusive 'clubs'. The intention is to allow the organic growth of safe and attractive community in which people can engage in the journey of discipleship with others, because they actually want to be there. At some point on the journey they may well begin to realise that they do actually need the 'warts and all' after all.

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 10:34 AM | link | 2 comments |

bring a friend...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I briefly mentioned 'here' the creative Christmas Peace Labyrinth from the Majendie's, friends in Christchurch, NZ. They've posted some more details 'here', along with a promo video for the project which is well worth a look! Shame I won't be able to experience it first hand - anyone got a spare ticket to New Zealand?!

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 1:53 PM | link | 0 comments |

stories and propositions...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

'This' is a helpful and thought provoking post from Ben Sternke warning of the dangers of erring too exclusively towards either propositional or narrative interpretations of the Bible. Ben argues that we need to hold both approaches together. He writes...

"Think about the way you talk about someone you love or admire. Do you tell stories about them or make propositional statements about them? I do both, as I assume most of us do. I'll say "She's one of the most genuine people I know" (propositional statement), but I might also tell a story about her genuineness.

Stories enliven the propositions, and propositions chasten the stories. The truth of the gospel is more than a proposition, but it is also more than a story."

go read...

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 10:52 AM | link | 0 comments |

heima...

Monday, December 03, 2007

I was given a copy of Heima by Sigur Ros for my birthday - it's an exquisite (a word I don't use very often) film of a band on tour through their homeland. The music is perfectly accompanied by well shot footage of the Icelandic countryside and it's all artistically crafted together - as you'd expect from Sigur Ros. Ok, it's not easy to describe this without sounding slightly pretentious but if you get hold of a copy, you'll see why!

If you manage to get hold of the special edition with a 116 page bound photobook it's a real treat! It seems that even though some places are already selling these for over £50 (e.g. play.com), HMV still have some in stock at the proper price 'here'... definitely my recommendation of the month!!

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 2:55 PM | link | 1 comments |

welcome...

Ok, so this video is a parody (and quite a funny one at that), but the thing with parodies is that there has to be some kernel of truth behind it for it to work. Over the top it may be, but it's built on a perception that we need to work very hard to correct. Enjoy... but not too much!



hat tip... Matt Stone

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 12:17 PM | link | 2 comments |

birthday bash...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Yesterday was my birthday and I went with my wife to see Kaiser Chiefs supported by The Pigeon Detectives. It was an amazing gig - The Pigeon Detectives were excellent given that this was perhaps their biggest gig to date (or so the bad said). I don't think I've enjoyed a support act so much since I saw Coldplay support Muse about 7 years ago... they're definitely a band to look out for. I was looking forward to seeing Kaiser Chiefs but I have to say they were even better than I expected. They are definitely a live band - loads of energy and tight musically without taking themselves too seriously. If you get a chance to catch them on this tour... go for it!!

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 2:38 PM | link | 0 comments |